There are a number of penalties that states impose against drivers who are convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). Many states use these terms interchangeably. In some locations, however, DUI is used to refer to driving under the influence of drugs, while DWI refers to driving while intoxicated under alcohol. In either case, one of the most commonly used deterrents for repeat DUI and DWI offenses is an ignition interlock device, or IID.
An IID is a device that is installed into the dashboard of a convicted driver’s vehicle. In order for the driver to start his or her vehicle, he or she must blow into the IID device. The device is similar to a Breathalyzer in that it detects the amount of alcohol in the sample-provider’s system. If the IID detects an amount of alcohol in the driver’s system above the legal limit, the IID will prevent the car engine from starting.
Some IIDs utilize rolling tests, which require the driver to provide samples while the car is in operation. This program is designed to thwart drivers who have another person blow into the device in the driver’s place. If the device detects a blood alcohol level above the legal limit, it will order the driver to pull over and put the vehicle in park. Examples of mechanisms that IIDs use to require a driver to pull over and put the vehicle in park include repetitive horn honking and flashing lights. Once in park, the IID device shuts off the vehicle’s engine.
Almost every state collects the information obtained from each IID sample in a database. The information about each breath sample is delivered to multiple departments, including the court that handed down the conviction, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the offender’s probation office. Some states collect the information on a real-time basis through wireless receivers, while others upload the information on a less regular basis.
The length of time that a driver is required to use an IID varies between each state. In Arizona, for example, a motorist who has been convicted of a DUI offense must use an IID for at least six months. In California, a court can impose an IID device in a wide variety of circumstances for a period of up to three years following the date of the conviction. It is not uncommon for IID devices to be included in penalties for repeat DUI/DWI offenses, with many states requiring a motorist who receives his or her second DUI/DWI conviction to utilize an IID. Other jurisdictions allow a driver to keep his or her driver’s license following a DUI/DWI conviction, provided that the driver installs an IID in his or her vehicle. In most cases, the cost of installing the IID falls on the driver in addition to other fees associated with IID monitoring, and the driver must provide a verification of installation to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
In addition to IIDs, many DUI offenders may be required to complete alcohol rehabilitation programs, community service, probation, and even jail time. Other countries that impose IID usage as a penalty for driving while intoxicated include Canada and New Zealand.